The 2019 Stars Burst Over Carlisle fireworks show sparked discussion at the recent Carlisle Borough Council budget meetings.
At issue was the extent to which the borough would support the annual show, held near the Fourth of July at the same time as the annual Summerfair event.
Last year, the Downtown Carlisle Association was designated to assist the borough with the fireworks. The borough included $10,000 in its outside agencies budget that was given to the DCA for the fireworks, Assistant Borough Manager Susan Armstrong said.
The money was taken from the borough’s parking fund.
This year’s budget built in $25,000 for the fireworks, but that amount is adjusted according to what is brought in through fundraising. If, for example, $15,000 is raised, that is what is spent, Armstrong said.
Councilwoman Robin Guido said she understands the argument that the fireworks are for the good of the community, but she’s opposed to borough funds, whether from parking fees or taxpayers, going toward the display.
“It wasn’t a borough expenditure. I don’t think it was never intended to be a borough expenditure,” she said.
The fireworks display enjoyed financial stability for about 40 years thanks to Cumberland Valley Savings and Loan and its successors through acquisitions and mergers before ending its sponsorship in 1994.
That's when the mayor of Carlisle - first Kirk Wilson, then William "Doc" Kronenberg and now Tim Scott - took up the fundraising mantle for the show.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles stepped up in 1995 to sponsor the event through the 2000 display. VFW Post 477 co-sponsored the event later in the decade.
The 2001 display found sponsors, but over the next few years, a shortfall would be announced in early June followed by a flurry of donations. In late 2005, a group of residents, the Carlisle Fireworks Committee, hosted fundraisers and secured sponsors for the July 1, 2006, display.
“In a perfect world, I do not have to go out and fundraise for any of this,” Scott said.
Scott said it’s a challenge every year to raise the money, which is why he turned to the council to ask for the $10,000 parking fund money to help as seed money.
“In the past, it’s always been a struggle to get there, but we always did,” he said.
Sponsors for last year’s Stars Burst Over Carlisle fireworks show are: the Borough of Carlisle, UPMC Pinnacle Carlisle, Eckert Seamans, The Sentinel, Carlisle Eagles Post 1299, Tree of Life Church, CAM-TEK Systems and the Downtown Carlisle Association.
North Middleton Township has donated to the show for the past two years, but neighboring South Middleton and Middlesex townships have not.
“I’d be more OK with continuing the way we were if we got some additional funding or help from the neighboring municipalities,” Guido said.
Though the allocation for the fireworks remains in the budget, Guido said the borough needs to set a timeline and benchmarks for dealing with the issue so that the council is not discussing the same issue during next year’s budget talks.
During the discussion, Scott also expressed his displeasure with last year’s show, and said the borough is working with a new vendor for the 2019 edition.
“They’re telling us that we can expect good things for a reasonable amount of money,” he said.